Lucia, the ballerina enchanting the Quartier des Spectacles

August 24, 2023

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A giant music box combining classical music, sculpture, animation and dance has been installed on the Parterre. Lucia is an interactive work by Anne Lagacé and Montreal-based studio Mirari. It beckons you to enjoy a captivating tale enhanced with original music composed by Maxime Goulet and performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Dina Gilbert.

We spoke with creators Anne Lagacé and Mirari’s Gonzalo Soldi.

Can you tell us about the origins of Lucia?

Anne Lagacé: The creative process for Lucia started four and a half years ago. It’s the product of our desire to bring together traditional art forms in a single project that could appeal to the widest possible audience. We also wanted to give a new dimension to multimedia projects by creating a work that goes beyond a simple framework of sound, light and visual effects.

How did the creative process unfold?

Gonzalo Soldi: Most multimedia projects start with a flash – a technological idea that starts the ball rolling. But we soon realized that we needed something deeper for this project. To create the work we envisioned, we had to have a narrative foundation, and we looked to classic fairy tales for inspiration. But after searching in vain for the right story, we realized that we would have to write our heroine Lucia’s story ourselves.

What is Lucia’s story?

G.S.: It tells the story of Lucia, a young dancer from Ravenna, Italy, who dreams of travelling around the world. One day, she meets Giorgio, a local streetlamp lighter. When Lucia is injured in an accident and can no longer perform, Giorgio creates a music box that allows her to dance forever. This tale is one of the In Bocca Al Lupo tales (In the Wolf’s Maw, in Italian).

A.L.: The beauty of the story is that the audience plays a part. By approaching the installation and turning the cranks at its base, people influence the streetlamps that illuminate the stage as well as the music that Lucia dances to. As a result, the audience helps bring enchantment back to the city.

How is the work presented to the public?

A.L.: There are five possible levels of interaction. The first is to admire the work in itself: a two and a half-metre sculpture made in France by Yann Guillon. Next, you can turn the cranks and help play the original music composed by Maxime Goulet. The music that plays, making Lucia dance, changes depending on the number of cranks being turned. When there’s only one, the music is a very intimate celesta solo. As more cranks are turned, the choreography gets more intricate and the music more majestic. In addition, the light from the six streetlamps illuminating the installation shifts with the music. Lastly, two screens on the sides of the base display an animated short film made by La Pastèque, telling the story of Lucia. There are also two information panels describing the process of creating the work.

Do you have any thoughts on the whole process and its challenges, from ideation to installation?

G.S.: There were many challenges because we had to innovate and create something unprecedented. When we started to talk about our vision, people were skeptical and many of them asked if such a project was even possible. And the more progress we made, the more ambitious the project became. We laughed the first time someone suggested that we approach the OSM. But then we asked ourselves: why not?

A.L.: There were so many constraints! Things like COVID-19, having to complete the Lucia sculpture in Montreal, updating the Photoshop mockups… All last week, we were in the studio making last-minute corrections. It’s strange to say, but in the last few years we put so much energy into convincing everyone of the project’s viability that I can’t believe I can now pivot to encouraging the public to go check it out!

G.S.: As for me, I can’t stop asking myself how many major projects like this one come along during a creator’s career. And while we may have some contradictory feelings, oscillating between anticipation and nostalgia, above all we are very excited to introduce Lucia to the public!

Le Parterre
Until September 17, 2023

A work by Anne Lagacé and Mirari
Presented by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) and the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership